Disclosure of HIV Status: Would You Rather Risk a Rejection or a Criminal Prosecution?
Cass Mann, an HIV-positive gay man and the founder of UKâs only gay menâs HIV/AIDS charity Positively Healthy (http://www.posh-uk.org.uk/), talks about disclosure of HIV status before having sex. Disclosure seems like a minefield, but in reality it's really simple. If you are HIV positive and want to have sex with someone, you need to disclose your HIV status to them. Do you tell them and risk rejection, or do you not tell and have your way with them? Most gay men who don't disclose choose not to disclose because they fear rejection. If an HIV positive person doesn't disclose and doesn't use protection (including for oral sex!) and the partner later figures out they contracted HIV as a result, the HIV positive person can be criminally prosecuted in the United Kingdom. It's possible to use DNA sequencing to prove that you contacted HIV from a specific partner. The more partners you infect, the harder it is to legally defend yourself. If you lie about your status, the penalties are harsher. Would you rather risk a simple rejection or a protracted criminal prosecution and a prison sentence? Think about what the stress of publicity and a lengthy prosecution and prison sentence would do to your health. Disclosure is hard, but you have to be clear about the legal issues you face if you don't disclose. People have been prosecuted and imprisoned for failing to disclose and then infecting others. Not disclosing is a criminal act, and if you're HIV positive, it is your responsibility to disclose and also to use a condom every time even after you disclose. Google "HIV criminal transmission" or "HIV deliberate infection" to see cases of successful prosecutions and to familiarise yourself with the law in this regard. So disclose each and every time. If the prospective partner says no, don't have a problem with it. And remember there are highly pleasurable ways of having sex that don't carry the risk of HIV transmission. For more information, visit http://www.posh-uk.org.uk/ and http://www.AIDSvideos.org/.